Family and Neighbors Speak Out About Fatal Fire - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/4/06

Family and Neighbors Speak Out About Fatal Fire

A four year old boy who alerted his parents to fire became the only one to die in a central Lubbock house fire. The fire started at 10:30 this morning at 4203 33rd Street. Four-year-old Ethan Pena was killed. His parents, Rebecca and Tim Pena, were able to escape with Ethan's sister, 1-year-old Zandria. NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel has been following this story, and learned that the fire might have started from a candle.

Investigators found out that a candle was burning on top of a television in the living room where Ethan was playing. Ethan ran into his parents bedroom where they were sleeping, but by the time they awoke, the house was engulfed in flames, and only three of the four would make it out alive.

Tragedy would become the first meeting between Sandra Perkins and her neighbors, the Pena's. "I saw the back gate fly open and this black thing came out and she was hollering, 'help!'" she said.

The Pena family just moved into their central Lubbock home in December. Their furniture had been delivered just five days ago. But within seconds, they lost everything, including their only son. Sandra said, "we tried to get the mama out and the mama didn't want to leave because her boy was in there. I'm sorry I couldn't get him out!"

Four year old Ethan was in the living room when the fire started. Investigators say a candle was burning above the TV, and only speculation could say what ignited the fire.

Jessica Swindall, the victim's sister, said, "Ethan was something else, he is going to be missed."

Ethan's last action was to warn his family. He ran into his parents room while they were asleep. Investigators say the little boy reportedly acted strange and left the room. His father, Tim, heard a noise and woke up to the smell of smoke. He ran to the front door, but it was locked. With the flames spreading quickly, the family's only option was to break a back bedroom window.

Witness Lisa Lawler says, "they were trying to bust out windows to be able to get in them, but there's screws in the screens so they were not able to really do that."

In the end, only the mother, father, and baby girl would escape. Ethan's aunt said, "we took it hard. We're still trying to cope with it."

The three surviving family members are in satisfactory condition at UMC at this hour. There were four smoke detectors in the house, but none of them were working. Two did not have batteries and the other two had been disabled.

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